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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Amnesty International and the Self-Serving Avarice of the Left

“If the fire department in your town thought the way Amnesty International does they would send all the trucks and ambulances down to take care of the burning toaster in the mayor’s kitchen and keep them there to make sure the fire is out while a 727 crashes next to the elementary school and burning children run into the street igniting five high-rise apartment buildings where mothers are forced to throw their babies out their windows to passers-by.”



I knew I needed to write about Amnesty International when I saw this post on Solomonia . It cites a report from NGO Monitor in which they analyzed the content and subject matter of Amnesty International’s publications and statements over the past year. The study plainly shows how biased and politically partisan AI really has become. The evidence is voluminous and damning. Solomonia also cites a Ynet article about the NGO Montor study.

It was not so much the NGO Monitor report that made it necessary for me to write about AI as it was a quote in the Ynet article Sol cites in the same post. Ynet’s Yaacov Lappin quotes Amnon Vidan, the Director General of Amnesty International’s Israel Department as saying this, when asked about the results of the NGO Monitor analysis:

“There is an expectation of Israel and other democratic states to abide by a higher standard than Sudan. I would suggest NGO Monitor address the content of documents, rather than count their words. That way they will be able sympathize with the suffering of non-Jews," Vidan said.”

The implications of the statement are stunning. Here is a highly placed official in the organization that represents itself as the world’s pre-eminent guardian of Human Rights specifically admitting that they employ a double standard. The use one set of criteria for democratic countries and another for the rest of the world.This confirms what advocates for Israel and defenders of western civilization in general have been saying for some time. It explains why Amnesty focuses excessively on the difficulties and occasional tragedy caused by the reasonable law enforcement and self-protective military actions of Israel and the US than on the offensive and intentional horrors of the rape, murder and enslavement of Darfour or the horrific, government sanctioned repression and murder of women throughout the Islamic world.

His chief problem with the NGO Monitor study seems to be that he feels that it lacks the proper focus and distribution of sympathy. That’s odd because the Amnesty International mission statement doesn’t mention anything about sympathy allocation being part of the job. Here is the mission, right off the web page

“Amnesty International's vision is of a world in which every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards.

In pursuit of this vision, AI's mission is to undertake research and action focused on preventing and ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity, freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom from discrimination, within the context of its work to promote all human rights.

AI is independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion. It does not support or oppose any government or political system, nor does it support or oppose the views of the victims whose rights it seeks to protect. It is concerned solely with the impartial protection of human rights.”


See that? Not a single mention of telling the world for whom it should have sympathy. In fact they specifically say, “the impartial protection of human rights” not the preferential protection of human rights of those impacted by democratic countries. Perhaps Mr. Vidan thinks that Amnesty International should change its name to Sympathy International and spend its time telling us who to feel sorry for and why, if so he should state that instead of attempting to convince us he is being fair. My guess is that he has, simply dropped the veil momentarily and given us an inadvertent glimpse into the hypocritical ideological/psychological make up of the leftist/socialist cabal that rules Amnesty International.

Of course, readers of Breath of the Beast will not be surprised that a highly placed Director in AI should betray such a blatantly subjective, hysterically emotional bias. We’ve discussed the underlying kitsch, emotion and Agélastic bathos that dominates the left.

Amnesty has been an enormously powerful force on the international scene and although its own bias and arrogance has begun to eat away at that power, it is still the most recognizable franchise name in The Human Rights Business. This power is part of what drives people like Vidan mad.

I am referring to frankly leftist activists who populate such groups and their liberal enablers who fall for their marketing campaigns. The very core of their belief system is fear and disdain for those who wield power in the real world. Their entire identity is that they are the champions of the “under-classes”. Least you think I am exaggerating about the leftist orientation and agenda here is a description of the Poverty and Human Rights campaign found on the AI website. It says, in part:

Everyone, everywhere has the right to live with dignity. That means that no-one should be denied their rights to adequate housing, food, water and sanitation, and to education and health care.
Amnesty International is increasingly documenting how human rights violations drive and deepen poverty. People living in poverty have least access to power to shape the policies of poverty and are frequently denied effective remedies for violations of their rights.
AI is working to hold governments, big business and other powerful actors to account for human rights violations which target the poor, and which deepen poverty.

This, of course, is a thinly veiled call for the redistribution of wealth in classic “From each according his ability; to each according to his needs” Communist style. It sounds compassionate and reasonable when swathed in human rights yard goods but history has proven that it does not work and leads to far greater tyranny than it proposes to replace. As C. S. Lewis wrote, “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”- a perfect description of the socialist totalitarian terrors of Stalin, Hitler, Mao and Pol Pot.

They claim to stand up for the powerless but they are betrayed by their own human frailty. They love power. Vidan gets to say who is and who isn’t a human rights violator. He doesn’t have to answer to anyone. He “reports” on violations as he sees them and when there is a considered and intelligent challenge to his judgment, he arrogantly dismisses it by decree. He doesn’t feel obligated to answer the questions raised in good faith but, rather, flings them back, accusing anyone who would question his “moral” authority of callousness toward “non-Jews”.

The mantle of power rests uneasy on such a creature, though. Even leaving aside the question of what his motivation might be as an Israeli who would engage in the biased and unfair singling-out of his own country when the forces arrayed against it are committed to its destruction and are far worse violators of human rights, he is caught in an inescapable spiral of self-loathing. You see, when do-gooders like Vidan get themselves into organizations such as Amnesty International and rise to high positions, they get a glimpse of themselves as the very thing they loath and become that most pitiable species of anomaly, a Leftist, Fat Cat, Powerbroker. There is nothing so loathsome as self-loathing.

The hypocrisy and self-loathing doesn’t end there. Several paragraphs ago, I used the word “franchise” to describe Amnesty International. This might be jarring to some; others might have understood it as a metaphorical use of the words that is a specific term of a commercial nature. I used the word more precisely than that. Amnesty International is, for all its being a “non-profit” institution, is actually a marketing and money driven enterprise. It is true that the organizing principal is “Human Rights” as set forth in the mission statement quoted above but Vidan and all of his associates are well-paid professionals. Their continuance in that profession is dependant on a substantial flow of cash. This is where they really get themselves tied in knots. Both Solomonia and Little Green Footballs have blogged this little beauty of a fundraiser:


The ghastly jape of a poll is bad enough but then the text of the appeal are almost unbelievable:

All joking aside, the U.S. government, once perceived as a beacon of hope and justice, no longer leads the world on Human Rights.

The continuing allegations of U.S. torture, use of secret prisons, ghost detainees, and indefinite and unconstitutional detention at Guantanamo calls into question the U.S. commitment to fight torture and adhere to international law. The U.S. now lacks the credibility needed to improve human rights abroad.

By violating some international laws, the United States undermines all international law and promotes the idea to other countries that some laws are acceptable to ignore in the pursuit of “security.”

Check out Amnesty’s annual report to learn more about rights abuses in 2006 and find out what you can do to improve human rights in 2007 in the United States and elsewhere.


This is naked Marketing obfuscation. They imply in the first paragraph that here was a time in the past that Amnesty acknowledged America as “a leader on Human Rights”. This is designed to trick the liberal and uninformed reader that the actions of recent leadership are responsible for losing the approval of the Human Rights arbiters. This is a canard, as will be obvious to anyone who has followed Amnesty International’s reports over the years. Here is just one example from the World Socialist Web Site of an article published almost 2 years before 9/11 and a year before the current president came to power. They have never considered America a beacon of hope, that phrasing is there only to hook new visitors (or visitors with no long-term memory) and to inspire them to think that a donation to AI would help to restore the status of “beacon of hope”. The truth is that, in the upside-down world of Human Rights franchising, there can be no such thing as good. As soon as “good” exists the Human Rights Crisis is over and the donors and their money will be on to the next crisis. No, it impossible for them to be positive or even hopeful about Human Rights- their livelihood depends on it. So this admission of the late, lamented leadership of the US is just as fake as the poor record they accuse her of. They never admitted that the US was the beacon in Human Rights and never will because to do so would be to forgo a great lever for separating soft-hearted, uncritical American liberals from their money.

When Vidan implied that we have not enough sympathy for non-Jews he implies that he either thinks that Jews are, for some reason, intrinsically unworthy of any more sympathy than has already been expended on us, presumably because we have had far more than our share of sympathy already and don’t require any more. It is obvious that the liberal and leftists in democratic countries are the primary marketing target here Sudanese nomads and Palestinians (whether they launch Qassam rockets themselves) or not are not going to be big donors to AI. On the contrary it is only by tweaking the interest of the west will they raise enough money to paid their own salaries.

When he said that democratic nations should be held to a higher standard than non-democratic ones, he discounts the suffering of human rights victims of any country he does not consider “democratic”; but he appeals to the largest, most likely pool of donors.

At some level Vidan and the other Human Rights Marketers (read: charlatans) at Amnesty International must feel the cognitive dissonance that their double standard and use of Human Rights for their self-promotion and career enhancement causes but their emotional, intellectual and economic self-interest blinds them to it. They will never understand how much harm their deconstructive moral relativism does both to the world and to themselves because, in the words of Upton Sinclair, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”


As a result, while hundreds of thousands are raped, murdered and sold into slavery by undemocratic Sudan, their suffering is somehow accounted as less acute and noteworthy than the day-to-day inconveniences and economic deprivations imposed on Palestinians as Israel attempts to protect her innocent civilian population from the murderous terrorists that those “poor Palestinians” provision, harbor and aid in their attacks. Like wise the true horrors perpetrated in Iraq, where heads are hacked off with butcher knives, victims are tortured with blow torches and power tools and suicide bombs are killing 20-50 people at a whack every day by al Qeada and an assortment of other “undemocratic” groups Amnesty International focuses on the idiotic but admittedly humiliating antics of some prison guards at Abu Graihb. Does this make sense?

Only if you understand that AI is driven by fund raising first, socialist/progressive agenda second, the personal advancement of the "Human Rights Professionals" who run it and a deformed mutation of concern for human rights somewhere down the list.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day Rededication with Homage to Sir Winston

Happy Memorial day! Here in America we take today to honor our fallen heroes. So I am taking a few minutes off from my Amnesty International project. In the honor of the heores of both past and present, I am going to presume to share a bit of inspiration from the past and update it so that it might help stiffen our resolve today. Here is a goodly piece of courage and reason from the genius of war and struggle Winston Churchill. It stirkes me as particularly appropriate to our situation today, when France has finally awakened and elected a leader who may save her. Here is the original:

The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength.

Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail.

We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old."


And here is my new version with just a few (humbly submitted) changes, I've changed only a dozen words:

The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength.

Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Caliphate and all the odious apparatus of Sharia rule, we shall not flag or fail.

We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire and spiritual children (esp the USA) beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the Judeo-Christian, Greek and British traditions of Rule of Law and tolerance, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old."


To this I can only add: God bless France, God Bless England, God Bless Australia, God Bless New Zealand, God Bless Canada, God Bless Valiant Israel and most of all God Bless America!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

A Request for Amnesty

This is an unusual post for me because it is partly an excuse and partly a thank you. When I put my first post up on this past December 28th , I had hopes that, in time, I would be able to add my voice to the many that I respect on the Web in mutual support of the ideals and goals of our Judeo-Christian civilization. The response to my first post was overwhelming as bloggers that I have admired for years (allow me to pat myself on the back: Michael Ledeen, Solomonia, American Thinker, Discerning Texan, Jewish Odysseus, Richard Landes at Augean Stables, Jeremayakovka and many more) endorsed my writing and ideas. I felt, from the outset, a responsibility to reward their faith and endorsement with diligence and good work. Now, only five months into this enterprise, I have a wide and growing readership (if you are here you know who you are) to whom I feel an even greater responsibility. I am flattered that you are here and I want to give you enough reward to keep you coming back.

When you are a blogger writing about the civic, moral and intellectual challenges that face us in this time of war, there is always too much to write about. I am in a perpetual state of despair that I will never get to it all. Now a week has slipped by with only one post and some of you may be wondering if I am running out of gas…

Not the case!

In fact, the lull is due to a combination of obstacles that a poor blogger like me has to deal with all the time. Over the past week they have simply accumulated and have slowed me to a crawl. Allow me to put my excuse before you. I hope you'll bear with me.

There is the usual stuff that all but the most elite and prosperous blogger deals with- the day job (anybody got a solution for that one?), family things (I’ve had two of my six offspring graduate form college in the last two weeks), and the need to get more than three hours of sleep a night- once in a while.

Then there is the danger of picking a target that spends so much of its time doing more and more ridiculous things that it becomes difficult to finish an essay on it before they trump themselves with even greater idiocy and you have to go back and rewrite before posting. For the past two weeks I have been trying to write about Amnesty International but they simply won’t hold still and stop damaging themselves long enough to let me take the snapshot of them being hypocritical and biased. Every time I think I have it framed, they do something new and even more bizarre. Yesterday I was almost done writing a post about the recent report from NGO Monitor in which they analyzed the content and subject matter of Amnesty International’s publications and statements. The study shows how biased and politically partisan AI really has become. Solomonia did a very nice job bringing that one up here and my postwas taking off from there for a wider analysis. So there I was with this post ready to go up when both Solomonia
and Little Green Footballs came up with a newer and even more obvious illustration of how Amnesty is doing their best to invalidate their own reputation and credibility.
I am on this, folks, give me a few more days… In the meantime I’ll give you a hint of where I’m headed. I left this comment on Little green Footballs about AI last night:

“If the fire department in your town thought the way Amnesty International does they would send all the trucks and ambulances down to take care of the burning toaster in the mayor’s kitchen and keep them there to make sure the fire is out while a 727 crashes next to the elementary school and burning children run into the street igniting five high-rise apartment buildings where mothers are forced to throw their babies out their windows to passers-by.”

More on this soon!

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Queen of the Toads



A month ago I began my post about how we in the west are locked in deadly denial about the oil money that is the means by which the Caliphate Islamists keep their dreams of world Shari’a domination going with an image from my childhood. The snake devouring the toad left a very powerful impression on me. I described it this way:

I crouched down and watched for a while until the snake, with a subtle but urgent, peristaltic motion relaxed its hold instantaneously and inched up its teeth on the toad’s body- engulfing another three percent or so of its length. That gulp filled me with a claustrophobia and dread so deep that I couldn’t stand to see any more. I walked away- leaving them to their fates- one the devourer and the other the acquiescent devoured.

I’ll never forget the way the toad looked at me. It comes back to me time and again Even now, forty years later; the blank, blinking eye of the toad haunts me. Of course it is ridiculous to speculate on the motives, behavior and emotions of the toad. I don’t know why toads behave the way they do when snakes begin to swallow them. I do know that I am reminded of it very often by the behavior of my fellow human beings.

It is the look you get from people who are prepared to ignore any fact, accept any contradiction and succumb to any peril in order to support their current state of belief and comfort.


The Mainstream Media too remind me of a legion of toads. Claiming “evenhandedness” they write their niggling articles about “disproportionate responses” and “humiliation” as the teeth inch their way up the body of western civilization. Their blank refusal to report the actual content of the two warring sides, even in issues of life and death import for their own civilization, (the culture that gave them their life and the words with which they dismiss it) is so much worse than the surrender of the toad to the embrace of the snake that it beggars comparison. These people are supposed to be our eyes and ears- our warning system. Instead they are lulling and placating us even as they encourage our avowed killers.

Even in Israel, on the very most exposed outpost of the west, the place where the teeth have sunk in first, there are toads. A perfect illustration of how even a toad who is swallowed all the way up to her eyes can remain placidly, calm and self-assuredly sanguine is this interview with Amira Hass in which she tells a South American journalist:

“My hope is that my fellow countrymen Israel become aware, before it is too late, that military superiority doesn’t guarantee security or normal life in the region. Peace and Justice are not incompatible. It will be easy to establish peace in the region from the moment we abandon the policy of exclusion imposed on Palestinians ever since the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. “


This blindness must, officially, make Hass the Queen of the Toads. The monumental absurdity of it has to be obvious to anyone with wit or will. It was never the policy of Israel, especially at her inception to exclude anyone. Israeli Arabs are full citizens of Israel. They vote and are represented in the government more freely than in any Arab-ruled country in the world. Arab Israelis who are not blinded by religious hatred and genocidal rage, prefer “living in the “Israeli hell” to “the PA’s heaven” by a large majority.

The Arab armies that assaulted Israel in the moment of her birth did not do so because of settlements, or exclusion, or right of return, they attacked because the entire Arab/Islamic world viewed itself as shamed because The Jews (who for centuries they had subjugated, murdered at will and viewed as subhuman) were being allowed to have sovereignty of a miniscule, poverty stricken strip of land that some Arabs lived on also.

In spite of the fact that Israel intended to (and did in fact) respect the property and rights of those Arab citizens who stayed, the Arab nations and local leadership insisted upon feeling humiliated. The Arabs living in Israel today have a higher standard of living than any Arabs living in the “Arab World”. They view this as a humiliation too- and it is- but not in the way they conciev it. They should be humiliated that Israel, as small and bereft of oil wealth as she is, is a far better place to live than any Arab country on earth. Hass’ sympathy with their provocative rage and humiliation tells us far more about Hass and her dear old Arabs than it does about Israel.

But the thorny crown atop Hass’s “Queen of the Toads” regalia is her absolute insistence in the equivalency of the Arab and the Israeli cause. This is how the toad pretends that everything is comparable- How it rationalizes not fighting the progress of the snake. After all if neither side is better or worse what difference does it make?

“Our particular ethnic condition, on the other hand, cannot lead us to a mass behavior that inflicts pain and sufferance to others. Self-criticism and the criticism to oppressive regimes are ancestral Jewish values of which I am proud.”

Freedom of speech is essential but it carries a grave responsibility to pursue it with discrimination and judgment. Of course, Hass is a professional critic and when she equates the Palestinian aspiration to eliminate Israel with the dream of Israel to live in peace and security, when she suggests that Israel is oppressive on anything resembling the scale of her Arab neighbors, she gives us an important insight into the paralysis of the cultural death wish.

Hass’ ideology prevents her from seeing how things really are. She thinks deeply about things but because she is a leftist, in the grip of kitsch emotionalism, relativism and cultural anomie, there are certain things she must not think. For example, she cannot even entertain the possibility that one culture is any better than the other- this would run the risk of cultural imperialism. She is prohibited from advocating for her own people for fear of chauvinism. There is a myriad of “no think” zones like these in the progressive mind. They set a whole universe of important facts off-limits to the thought process. It is a particularly dangerous form of selective blindness.

Whatever it was that so anesthetized the toad that it never struggled or panicked, is a mystery to me. Since we cannot converse with the toad, it is an “animal behavior” that can only be explained or explored to a certain degree of imprecision. The cultural paralysis of the west today, however can and must be understood.

Slowly, but in inexorable increments, a disaster is engulfing the outlying precincts of the west. The atrocity of 9/11, the car fires of France, the transit bombs of Britain and the street murders of Van Gough and Fortuyn in the Netherlands are only the most obvious signs of an agonizingly slow but apparently irresistable process, and even these are explained and excused as the blinking toads prattle about “Why they hate us” and how we are “cultural imperialists”, focusing on our small faults and equating them with the horrific intentions of our enemy.

Those few of us who have begun to awaken, to fight and to raise the alarm meet with the same blank stares and uncomprehending placidity. Often it seems the only unease we are able to raise rebounds on us. We become objects of horror- just as the toad looked at me and tried to obey its instinct to flee from its only hope to live.

I pray that it is not too late for the entire west. I know that America has a fair chance. I have the sense that Australia is waking up and has the vitality to survive. But Europe, old Europe, with her vitality crippled by her heavy, useless guilt and anger about the Holocaust and her moral energy sapped by her post-Christian relativism seems unable to see or respond to her own danger. Time is clearly short- most of Europe sits and blinks with its haunches firmly in the maw of the serpent. Some hopeful signs emerge; the election of Sarkozy, and this incident but for each one of these there are a hundred small gulps by the snake and vacant blinks by the toad. But it is Israel, on the front-line for so long, bombarded daily, weighed down by ineffective, self-absorbed leadership and lulled by the likes of Hass the Toad Queen that I fear for the most.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The ReEducation of Legotown - or- What is the Difference Between the Western Left and the Caliphate Muslims?

I found myself in a Catholic Church again last Sunday morning. If you are surprised that someone who calls himself Yaacov Ben Moshe has been a relatively frequent visitor in Catholic Churches over the past ten years, you are not alone. I’m a little surprised myself. It is a family thing; my wife converted to Judaism with the head rabbi in Israel many years before I met her. She grew up Roman Catholic so half of our extended family is eastern European Jews and the other half Irish Catholic. There is also the odd self-professed Buddhist and a Protestant or two but of the last seven family funerals I have attended, three have been Jewish and four Catholic. This latest occasion was much happier though- we were there for the first holy communion of the daughter of a cousin.

The event took place at a beautiful old church in Boston- the Parish church that has been home to much of Mrs. Ben Moshe’s family for three generations. After the ceremony we adjourned to a restaurant across the street for a celebratory brunch. Mrs. Ben Moshe’s Parents are no longer with us but her father’s brother, the grandfather of the little girl whose communion we were there to honor was at the table along with his four daughters and one of his two sons (the other lives too far away) and their families. Following the custom of pseudonyms I have established for this blog and because he mentioned to me today that he would rather have been named James- after the saint on whose saint day he was born, I will call him James. James is a vibrant and statuesque ninety years old. I have always admired him and enjoyed his company. He is a lively and astute conversationalist He was raised during the great depression in a family that was economically deprived but far too strong, cultured and motivated ever to be called poor, he is solid and quintessentially American.

James is a devout man who respects the devotion of others. James and I enjoy talking about the things that matter to us and we have quite a bit in common. We understand the Bible, for instance, in very similar ways. He has always shown a sincere and respectful interest in Judaism and I have learned a lot about Catholicism (and life) from him. Almost every time we have had the opportunity, we have managed to share some of the most interesting, spiritual and intellectually intimate conversation I have ever known. One of the most spectacular of these occurred on the day that everyone who was available went to his house to help him pack and clear out the house in which he raised his kids. He was moving to a smaller place and was happy but nostalgic about the change. It was well into the evening when the work was done and we gathered in that living room jone last time. The women, his daughters and my wife were talking about their childhood memories as I sat next to James and we got into one of our deep talks- I don’t even remember how it started but soon he mentioned, offhandedly, that he was a soldier in the Patton’s 3rd Army during World War II. That got my attention- I’ve seen the movie at least five times. I questioned him and he kept on. He lived through many of the most critical battles of that war and at the end of it was present at the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp. We had been sitting on the couch, talking while Mrs. YBM and three of James’ daughters were moving around and engaging in other conversation. Soon however, they were all gathered around listening to the story of his wartime experiences. Later, one of his daughters took me aside and told me, “Dad has never talked about any of that before with anyone. We’ve never really known what he did in the war…”

So there we were last Sunday- the Jews and Irish sat around the restaurant table trading stories and jokes and I thought briefly about my parents who had had a close group of friends and relatives of the same mixture back in the thirties before the war. They even had a nickname for their group they called themselves “The Hebes and the Hibernians”, I like the name. It is full of a very American brashness and disregard for old hatred and fears. It also expresses a kind of nostalgic mid twentieth century consciousness of differences without the stagnant, hypersensitivity of today. But aside from the fact that we are now too cosmopolitan and politically correct to think of ourselves that way, there was another big difference between then and now- the children.

There were three adopted children there last Sunday along with two biological ones. The eight-year-old girl who had her first communion had been adopted from China when she was an infant by her Irish-American parents. There were also my two youngest. I have six altogether but my four oldest are between 30 and 21 at this writing and too old and too occupied with lives of their own to have been there. The two youngest are the eight and nine year-old that Mrs. YBM and I adopted from Ukraine when they were 3 and 4 years-old respectively. For those of you who will whant to know, yes they are biological brothers. Then there were the two sons of two of James’ other daughters- one is fifteen and the other is twelve.

So, you have to picture it- here was this beautiful little girl who survived the perils of abortion, abandonment and infanticide in the land in which she was born and the two little boys who had come through the harrowing and tragic loss of their first family, a year of orphanage deprivation and the shock of cultural dislocation. The three play and talk happily and lovingly together. They also play with their sweetly tolerant older cousins. They help themselves from the steaming, silver-plate chaffing dishes and walk from one adult to another smiling, collecting hugs and making conversation.

Let me make it clear, my wife and I adopted our two youngest sons because we wanted two more children to raise with each other. It drives us both a little crazy when someone tells us how wonderful the think we are for having done it. “Wonderful” in that sense, had nothing to do with it. The same goes for our cousins who adopted the little girl. We are an American Family, and in America, the open-hearted, self-reliant adventurous side of you is freer and more empowered than any where else on earth.

You are also free to take another view. Leftists and guilt laden liberals think of us as an expression of a neo-colonial super power and accuse us of cultural imperialism. To them we are crossing cultural lines and doing the unforgivable, not respecting and preserving other cultures. An economist might look at American who adopt abroad and describe us as a net importer of children as compared with China, Ukraine and so many other countries who are net exporters. Both of these views miss the point entirely.

We are just plain people who struggle through day to day life, know how to have a good time, love children and have faith in the future- We get to raise these kids and love them because:
1. We can
2. We want to
3. We believe in the values we can impart to them as Americans, members of western civilization and Jews

There are, no doubt, a lot of well-meaning people on the left but the simple truth is that they are the in the thrall of a mistaken and destructive ideology. Its most destructive aspect, even worse than the blood baths of the Soviets, Maoists and Khmer Rouge is that they squander human talent and its potential to improve life. Ukraine and China are net exporters of children because of the economic and social conditions that exist there. Those conditions, in both cases, are a product of their Communist past. They cannot take care of the children they produce because the economy can’t support them and because the people are uneducated. Or, rather, they are educated to be cogs in the illusory collectivist world of communism that never did materialize in spite of all the terror and thievery that was committed to try to bring it about.

That terror lives still, in the hearts of those “cogs with no machines” and in the unregenerate leftist imbeciles in the west who have refused to learn the lessons of recent history. Stuck on the failed intellectual trick of imagining that human nature and culture can be changed to fit their superficially logical idea of how to make the world a better place, they just keep coming up with new ways to demonstrate that their ideas are worthless.

An interesting manifestation of this particular form of repetitive self-humiliation is their desire to enlist children in their lost cause. They keep trying to replicate themselves, but in an odd parasitic kind of way. They are mostly, too self-involved and narcissistic to have very many children of their own. Oh, some of them have kids, but often they are the childless by choice kind of people.

While folks like us do things like adopting two little boys when we are at an age when most people we know are beginning to shop for their retirement home, they make themselves busy with tying to mould young minds. Having eschewed what they sometimes call “bringing children into this screwed up world” they often become “educators”.

They do not, of course, become teachers like Kettering, who make it their first priority to know their students and help them to grow as individuals, but “educators” of the sort who in the seventies were of the opinion that sexism, aggression and many of the other ills of society were brought on by bringing boys and girls up differently. If boys played with dolls and not guns and girls played with trucks, they told us, all the differences between males and females would even out and not trouble us any longer.

Those humorless twits would never have called themselves Hebes or Hibernians they had problems enough with “Boy” or “Girl”. No, and they intimidated anyone who wanted to point out that children have their own character and that boys and girls are treated differently because they are different. Now that the generation that they attempted to raise that way has broken the all time records for murder, robbery and rape, we are on to another campaign to educate the personal freedom out of today’s youngster.

Here is a case in point:
The Hilltop Children's Center Bans Legos
The Hilltop Children's Center calls itself a child care program in Seattle, Washington. My understanding of Child Care is that it is “not school”, it is a safe, enriching environment where kids can be entertained and stimulated while waiting for their parents to finish work and pick them up. It turns out that Hillside is more like an experimental “ReEducation center” on the familiar communist model. One notorious episode in particular has hit the news media recently and is an instructive example of how the left endangers our future.

The (re)educators in charge have written an article explaining their actions. The article appeared in a periodical named Rethinking Schools. Just the name of the magazine gets my teeth on edge- it seems to imply that “What ever this school thing is that you old dolts thought up, it is wrong, the whole thing is a mess and we are just the group of bright young geniuses to set it all right- here we come watch us think!”

The story tells how the staff of a day care center fancied themselves to be educators and in the process of trying to prove it, banned one of the worlds most popular and least violent toys. Apparently it all started with a grand vision that a few children had conceived for building a place they called Lego town. It is notable that the only Lego Town builders that they mention are boys. The article begins with a dialogue between Carl and Oliver purported to be 8-year-old boys. Here’s a quote

"I'm making an airport and landing strip for my guy's house. He has his own airplane," said Oliver.
"That's not fair!" said Carl. "That takes too many cool pieces and leaves not enough for me."
"Well, I can let other people use the landing strip, if they have airplanes," said Oliver. "Then it's fair for me to use more cool pieces, because it's for public use."


Now, granted, I’m not a “ReEducator” but I have six kids including an eight-year-old and a nine-year-old and this sounds like a pretty stilted and politically pointed bowdlerization of eight-year-old talk to me. But, let’s read on…

A group of about eight children conceived and launched Legotown. Other children were eager to join the project, but as the city grew — and space and raw materials became more precious — the builders began excluding other children.
Oh my, it sounds like reality… are we “educators” going to find ways of helping the kids work through the shortages and conflicts? What do you want to bet the builders were all boys? If its one thing the left, especially the gynocratic left hates, it’s a boy with the imagination, initiative and enthusiasm to envision a big project and try to get it done- even if it means not including others with conflicting aims and visions.

Occasionally, Legotown leaders explicitly rebuffed children, telling them that they couldn't play.


Oh, the horror of it, a game that is taken so seriously that casual wanderers and dilettantes are actively discouraged by the enthusiasts.

Typically the exclusion was more subtle, growing from a climate in which Legotown was seen as the turf of particular kids. The other children didn't complain much about this; when asked about Legos, they'd often comment vaguely that they just weren't interested in playing with Legos anymore.


Hold on, maybe it really didn’t bother the other kids that much. Many kids don’t like Legos all that much. Maybe the Legos only seem so exciting when someone else is excited about them. Why were the other kids even being asked such leading questions about it? Clearly, only because it rankled the Commissars of ReEducation, I wonder why?
As they closed doors to other children, the Legotown builders turned their attention to complex negotiations among themselves about what sorts of structures to build, whether these ought to be primarily privately owned or collectively used, and how "cool pieces" would be distributed and protected. These negotiations gave rise to heated conflict and to insightful conversation. Into their coffee shops and houses, the children were building their assumptions about ownership and the social power it conveys — assumptions that mirrored those of a class-based, capitalist society — a society that we teachers believe to be unjust and oppressive. As we watched the children build, we became increasingly concerned.
Yes, well, of course you were concerned, dear, these boys were achieving something, they were committing themselves to creating something and they were acting on it with passion. Their achievement had, by its success created a hierarchy of sorts where builders and creators excelled. How very un-leftist, masculine and goal oriented of them! Oh, and by the way, did anybody notice that they just called America “unjust and oppressive”?

Thanks very much, your child care services will no longer be required- my children won’t be spending any time in your care, Ms Pelo and Ms Pelojoaquin.
After Legotown was “accidentally” destroyed under mysterious circumstances, a meeting of the educators’ presidium decreed that Legos would be banned. Yes, of course, that’s the perfect way to combat the eight-year-old oppressors, we take their favorite toys away from them and denigrate their achievements and aspirations.
They didn’t just take the toys away, though, they made a great moralistic show trial of it. Proving that it wasn’t, at all, about the children and their toys but about the educators’ feelings, great world issues, the educators’ political ideas and the educators’ fragile egos.

One teacher described her childhood experience of growing up without much money and her instinctive critical judgments about people who have wealth and financial ease. Another teacher shared her allegiance to the children who had been on the fringes of Legotown, wanting more resources but not sure how to get them without upsetting the power structure. We knew that our personal experiences and beliefs would shape our decision-making and planning for the children, and we wanted to be as aware as we could about them.


We also discussed our beliefs about our role as teachers in raising political issues with young children.


Hmm, yes, that’s important, raising political issues with eight-year-olds. What’s next, then, addressing the merits of vegetarianism with wild Bengal tigers?

We recognized that children are political beings, actively shaping their social and political understandings of ownership and economic equity — whether we interceded or not. We agreed that we want to take part in shaping the children's understandings from a perspective of social justice. So we decided to take the Legos out of the classroom.


How dare these kids have so many Legos to begin with? Yes, we’ll shape those spoiled little bastards and we’ll make the world safe for mediocrity and we’ll save on our own psychotherapy bills at the same time!

It goes on and on, I could continue in this vein but I think I’ve made my point. I want to draw a line under this point because it is critical to the preservation of western civilization. These people who are dedicated to warping our children are a parallel and exacerbating analog to Caliphate Islamists teaching their children to chant Death to America, Death to the Jews. The one weakens our ability to defend ourselves while the other whips up the enemy who would destroy us. How do we fall victim to the sappers in our midst? Why do they get away with their idiocy that seems so obvious?

I think the answer lies in the educators’ navel-gazing meditation on their own childhood hang-ups. It just makes you want to scream. Give me a break; it’s not about you, you self-absorbed losers. It’s about kids and their toys and helping them to become better realizations of who they are. Just because you are not able to let go of the angst of being a poor child or a social dud as a kid, you have no right to torture these kids and force them to ape your insipid version of social justice. You can, if you want, pretend that it is possible to create a world in which no one would be smarter, more popular, richer or better at something than anyone else if you want to but it is not true and you had better realize that you can’t force that kind of equality on anyone else. Get over it, get a life and join the celebration of freedom and creativity that is America. In the words of Pink Floyd:

“Hey, Teacher! Leave those kids alone!”

America is oppressive and unjust? Only the squalid corner of it where you lord it over powerless kids who deserve better than your cynical, intellectualized manipulations. Look at every failed communist and socialist society where people like you have tried to force everyone to believe in their version of social justice. What do you find? Losers and misfits like Stalin, Hitler, Arafat, Saddam and Pol Pot who had sad and brutal childhoods and were angry enough to make the world pay for it under the guise of economic and social equality. Yes its true, when nobody has anything, when the state is everything, then everybody is, in some sense, equal.

Look at the Caliphate Islamists with whom the left makes common cause, The only way to view this connection as anything but an absurdity is to see that these are two failed, repressive and ignorant culture/ideologies that are refusing to face reality and surrender. They have no choice but to support themselves and eachother by pretending that both are actually culturally superior to and spiritually closer to God than the freest, most successful culture in the history of earth. We, as the most compelling common enemy trump all of the inherent dissonances in their relationship.

One may well shrink back from the comparison. Some will ask "How can I equate these “well meaning” fools who espouse such benign ideals (as Dave, a commenter on my “Nancy and Hillary” post listed them: no torture or humiliation, no killing, human dignity, help the poor, etc) with the Caliphatists who wrap their children in explosives or send them out to throw rocks at tanks?"

While it is true that our leftist educators, are not advocating violence directly, they rationalize it, explain it and excuse it to the degree that one suspects that they would not wholly disapprove of the Ward Churchill formulation that justifies it. What made Churchill’s “Chickens Coming Home to Roost” formulation so incendiary is not just the sheer insensitivity and wrong-headedness of it but the fact that it was really just a logical extension of the perverse and mocking core of rage hidden beneath the left’s drab, sincere façade. If they seem to revel in Israel’s agony and rationalize the bloody wreckage of 9/11 it is because they derive satisfaction from it. When they protest for “evenhandedness” in the middle east, when they stand in front of Israeli bulldozers, when they march with CAIR in street demonstrations and, especially, when they try to neuter and denature our children (especially our boys) they are enabling, if not committing, murder. Passive aggression can be just as deadly as naked aggression.

Un fortunately, its not just obvious idiots like the educators at the Hillside Reeducation Camp that we have to watch out for. Here in Newton, Massachusetts for example, in our acclaimed elementary school I was shocked, two years ago, to get a notice asking that, in honor of a delegation of seven-year-olds (and their educators) from China, could our children please wear white shirts and red kerchiefs to school on the day of their visit. I was astounded at the moral blindness it took for such an idea to seem like a good one. To dress our children in what amounts to the uniform of the Communist Pioneer Youth is unthinkable. It is comparable to an American school of the late 1030’s asking kids to come to school wearing brown shirts and jack boots to welcome visitors from Hitler’s Germany. Needless to say, my sons did not wear white shirts that day. We didn’t bring those two boys here from the former Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine to allow them grow up in a country where dopey, morally tone deaf, leftist educators would encourage them to forget what they escaped from. These boys know more about the horror of the world than most American adults. I am surprised too that in the large Asian community here in Newton, some of whom are political exiles; there has not been an open revolt about the idea. It is as if America has become in the early years of this century, a modern isle of lotus eaters. We have forgotten our goals and our values and we are constant threat of something even more deadly- forgetting our enemies- forgetting that there is a beast that stalks us.

One final word, I used the word “loser” twice in this essay and want to emphasize that I meant it both times. America and western civilization is about winners. It is about guys like James who was born into a family that never had enough money. His father passed away when he was a small child. As a young man he fought against Hitler’s evil under Old Blood and Guts himself. Then, after a few years of happiness and peace his wife was incapacitated by early onset Alzheimer’s disease when their six kids were all between the ages of five and sixteen. He raised those kids, visited his wife in the “home” twice a day, feeding her her breakfast and her dinner tenderly, one spoonful at a time, and he worked nights to support them all. All that and he still has a quick and convivial wit, a broad grin, a firm handshake and a loving heart. He never once stopped to whine about social justice and he never needed to be lectured about it either. That kind of makes the bitter, whining “educators” at Hillside Reeducation and their friends the rage/humiliation addicted Caliphate Muslims look like losers, doesn’t it?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

No Poopy Heads Allowed

Dear Valued Readers and Guests,

Sorry there has been no new major post this week. I am working on another big one that has really become important to me so I want it to be developed properly.

I want to say something here too about comments. I am more grateful than you could ever know for all of the thoughtful comments I have received. I retain control over each that goes up and I approve every one that shows honest thought and engagement with the issues- whether I agree with it or not.

However, I will not print comments, the only substance of which, is invective or unsupported opinion. I am sorry if you feel compelled to offer opinions without substance. If you offer no reason for your dismissal of my thoughts I have no idea what your problem with them might be. This what we might call a "poopyhead" argument. I am afraid although this tactic is a particular specialty of the liberal left, it is also employed by the bigoted extreme right.

You can call anyone a poopyhead and dismiss anything as “rubbish” but if you don't care to explain why you do that, it is nothing more than a meaningless attack, one which assaults nothing so much as the level of discourse.

What gives you the right to pronounce this or that statement utter rubbish without offering reason? I could call you a poopyhead just as easily as you can call me a poopyhead. Anyway, I am afraid I find it a terrible waste of our time and I won’t participate.

Bottom line: It’s my blog.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Nancy and Hillary - The Empty Sacks that a Couple of Human Beings Once Lived In

For the month or so that I have been stewing about Nancy Pelosi’s craven fawning over the despot of Damascus I have been trying to put my finger on why I have felt an urgent need to compare her to Hillary Clinton. I knew it wasn’t so much that they are both self-professed feminists and leaders of the Democratic Party. That was too obvious. It wasn’t that they are both unrelievedly ambitious and self-promoting. Honestly, all politicians are, some are just slicker than others about concealing it. It was not even that each of them in her own way has let her naked ambition, self absorption and lust for power trump all pretense at retaining the liberal and feminist ideals they both profess. Too many articles have pointed that out in too much detail (link 1, Link 2 ) to even think it needed to be pointed out again.

No, as I thought about it, there were two things that I thought most other observers had missed.

One was the sheer moral bankruptcy of Pelosi’s junket. At least Clinton had a clear path in mind as she was prostituting her dignity, and the education of her daughter about what a woman should have to expect from a man for her Presidential Ambition.

Pelosi, that holier than thou feminist, on the other hand was just getting carried away with the sheer rapture of being able to throw her weight around. She didn’t seem to have any deep calculation in mind as she played up to the leader of a country in which it is legal for a ny family member to kill a woman relative for so much as flirting with a member of the opposite sex.

She must have known in her heart, even as she helped to cut the Arab reformers and anti-Baathists off at the knees, that her time in power will be brief and that she is such an incompetent that she can’t help sowing the seeds of her own political demise. As I have pointed out before, “The left feels kinship with moribund totalitarians because they share that same doomed feeling of futility and humiliation. The Modern Left knows that with the fall of the Soviet Union, the Capitalization of China, stirrings of successful modernization in India, Mexico and much of the old Soviet block and the defection of the best minds (Hitchens, Podhertz, Kristol, et al) they are no longer the “Modern Left”, they are merely “What’s Left”. It has never been more apparent that their ideas are mawkish, cheap and unworkable. “

The second point has been elusive. Tonight, I finally realized what it was that was so difficult to pin down and yet so compelling. I recalled Hillary’s Suha kiss back in 1999. Sharing the stage with the ultra-wealthy wife of the “savior” of the impoverished Palestinian people, Hillary found herself on the receiving end of a good-ole’ Arab tongue lashing. Mrs Clinton was there in the Palestinian Territories for a ceremony in honor of the opening off an American funded (our tax dollars at work) health program. When Mrs. Arafat got up to speak she tore into the U.S.. In a typical fantastic tour de force of Palestinian calumny (a simple thankyou would have done fine, thanks Mrs. A) she accused us of complicity with Israel in leaking poisonous gas into the Palestinian Territories to sicken and kill Palestinian children. Ms Clinton not only stayed on the dais and listened to the blood libel, when it was over she ran over and planted a big, Hollywood/Washington style kiss on the shocked Mrs. Arafat. Look at this picture- Suha didn’t even know what hit her – one look at the stunned look on her face here and you realize that that day Hillary raise the bar for the height of self-destructive, liberal phoniness she could leap to. Her display of out-of-control fawning and obsequious toadying, however, was only a chilling foretaste of the spectacle Pelosi would make of herself several years later with the dictator of Syria. Here is a shot of our new Lady Speaker giving the Democrat stamp of approval to the guy who gets up every day and finds new ways to smuggle Iranian arms into Lebanon and suicidal Jihadis into Iraq. Here she is,
with evident glee on her face pulling on the bloodstained hands of the foul brute who presides over a country in which her husband could legally beat her to death with a willow stick for so much as shaking that hand. Some feminist.

Assad is bad enough- here is the real face of horror- a woman with the education, freedom, personal wealth and political power to make a real difference in the world and all she cares about is self-aggrandizement and hogging the spotlight. Look at the face of either of these women an you will see the face of horror- a human being who knows they have the opportunity to do something good and are not strong enough to do it. They know they are a waste of space, oxygen and skin and it shows on their faces.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Understanding vs Nonthought- Why the Left Does Evil With the Best Intentions

For three of the most interesting and stimulating years of my life, I was a professional step father to dozens of baby monkeys. I was working my way through my last two years of undergraduate studies and a three semester Master’s Degree. I was the weekend supervisor of the infant monkey nursery at one of the most renowned medical schools in the world. My hours were 12 noon to midnight every Saturday and Sunday. Despite the lack of any free time on weekends, I loved that job. It paid well enough, it came with health insurance, the monkeys were very interesting and over the one hundred and fifty or so weekends that I worked there I got to . listen to one of my great heroes speak dozens of times. After eleven PM I would begin the clean-up process. There were baby bottles to wash and data records to compile. These activities would keep me in the lab office. It so happened that on Sunday nights at eleven, one of the local college radio stations, ran a program that originated from Wayne State University in Detroit. It turned out that they had produced only a dozen or so programs for the series and because it was on in an undesirable time slot, the station repeated them over and over. Three of the programs in that rotation changed my life in a fundamental way.

These three were actually half hour segments made from an antique ninety minute recording of a speech that a man named Charles F. Kettering had given at some commemoration or dedication ceremony toward the end of his career. Kettering was, by then, one of the few surviving members of a generation of entrepreneurs and inventors that quite literally changed the conditions of human life during the early decades of the last century. Kettering was responsible for scores of inventions that changed people’s lives and expectations. Among his inventions were; the electric cash register, the diesel locomotive engine, the electric starter for the automobile, safety glass and ( what is probably the most profoundly influential of them all) the discovery of Freon gas for refrigeration and air-conditioning.

This great technologist spoke not of knowing things, shaping industry and wielding power but of how to help people’s minds to grow how to empower them to solve problems by understanding themselves and the world around them.

He told the story of his first job as a recent college graduate. He was schoolmaster in a turn-of-the-century, one room school house. One of his youngest pupils was a first grader who had already had a difficult experience in school. Although she was obviously bright and could already read at a high level for her age, she could only do it with the book held upside down. Her previous teacher had insisted that she learn to read the “right way” and refused to let her read upside down. Luckily, she kept reading and only learned to hate and fear the teacher.

When Kettering took over the school, he sized the situation up in the same way he approached all of the other problems that he would later solve in mechanics, chemistry and electronics. First he undertook to understand the whole problem. It turned out that the little girl had spent many hours in the care of her grandmother who was unable to hold the little girl on her lap and read to her in a more standard way so she would read to her by placing a book on a stool in between two chairs that faced each other and would read to her as the girl looked on upside down. Kettering knew from this that the girl was smart and motivated and could adapt to any condition. He hit on a plan that worked perfectly- with no emotional damage or condemnation of the child. He borrowed a music stand from someone in the community and placed her book upside down (rotated 180 degrees) in front of her. Then next day, Kettering turned the music stand’s holder 5 degrees clockwise. Every Monday after that he would turn it an additional 5 degrees. As the school year progressed, the girl found herself reading at 175 degrees out of the usual then 170 then 165 etc… By the end of the year she was reading just the way everyone else was and Kettering had done it without making her feel as though she was different, strange or wrong. He honored her as an individual at the same time he was correcting her because he understand the problem deeply enough that the solution became obvious. This was an example, he said, of “letting the problem be the boss”. Later in his life this slogan would be his watchword; he posted the exhortation “Let the Problem be the Boss” on the wall of his laboratory.

The trouble that most people get into when they run into a problem they have never experienced before, he explained is that they immediately try to solve it using what they already know. The more educated and “expert” the person, the greater is that tendency. Kettering advanced the idea that true solutions to problems come not from trying to fit every problem to the answers you already know but from meeting the problem on its own ground and letting it teach you what you need to know to understand it and solve it. Once, Kettering said, you “let the problem be the boss” and not try to bend it to fit your small view of the world, you begin to grow in power and ability.

I was captivated listening to Kettering talk because he had clarity of expression that perfectly reflected the genius of his insight. He made you feel as though his understanding was your understanding. Somehow I felt that this very practical man was so clear and so pragmatic that he paradoxically was talking in a perfectly spiritual and transcendent way about these quintessentially down to earth matters. He offered a glimpse into the core of our relationship with the real world and because of this he was seeing too into very fiber of the order of the universe.
I looked forward to these programs and must have heard each one of them a half dozen times. I read as much as I could find about Kettering in the library too. I took him and his philosophies to heart and he became one of my life’s heroes.

He was also an anti-authoritarian of the purest and most constructive kind. Another story he told was about an earlier speech he had given before an august assembly of academics. They had gathered to honor Kettering, Edison and a few others of the great inventors of that time. Kettering told how he had gotten up and explained to the academics that the kind of education they prized and awarded advanced degrees for was the antithesis of the kind of training that was needed to produce more innovators like the ones gathered there for honors. He related how his group of engineers had been struggling to find the right gas to serve as a refrigerant for a cooling system that GM had commissioned him to develop. They worked by their own methods for a long time with little success. Then Kettering took things into his own hands and told them to pack their things for a working retreat. Once there he had them draw a graph of all the molecular formulae they had tried so far on the wall. The graph included the composition and the properties of each gas. As they filled in the graph, it became apparent that there was one spot where all the properties of the other molecules seemed to converge to point toward the most efficient refrigerant. Kettering pointed this spot out and was immediately told by one of his slide rule wielding engineers that they had suspected that there was a molecule that would fit there for some time but that they had not tried to produce it because according to their calculations, the characteristics of the molecule would be unstable and it would not be tractable for use. Kettering insisted that they try and Freon gas was discovered. Freon served for many decades as the best refrigerant known. It made possible food preservation and shipping as we know it as well as air-conditioning and many medical and scientific research techniques that have saved and enriched uncounted lives.

Kettering ended this tale by saying that after that, he would often call meetings at which slide rules were strictly forbidden and that he insisted on re-training all engineers with advanced degrees who came to work for him.

Kettering was driven by problem solving and it is understanding- not knowledge that solves problems. He, like Newton and Einstein, knew that there was more to this Universe than any human can know or understand. As Kettering put it in his plain and firm way, “Knowing is not understanding. There is a great difference between knowing and understanding: you can know a lot about something and not really understand it.” His approach to problems was to encounter a problem without preconceptions and to let the problem teach him to both know and understand it. In this way the problem becomes its own solution. Or as Kettering said, “The only difference between a problem and a solution is that people understand the solution.”

In thinking about it, I have finally realized that this quinessentialy pragmatic man, whose purity of thought and purpose transformed the world around him has arrived at the same place as Milan Kundera- a man whose angle of approach could not be more different, although his transformative effect can be comparable. The crystalline intellect of the born inventor and engineer and the senitive, intuitive artist/novelist whose soul was forged between the freedom of his art and the totalitarian society he was born and raised in have intersected and their message to us is simple but vital. Recall with me the quote of Kundera’s that I used in my post about the Mainstream Media.

“The word "kitsch" describes the attitude of those who want to please the greatest number, at any cost. To please, one must confirm what everyone wants to hear, put oneself at the service of received ideas. Kitsch is the translation of the stupidity of received ideas into the language of beauty and feeling. It moves us to tears of compassion for ourselves, for the banality of what we think and feel…Given the imperative necessity to please and thereby gain the attention of the greatest number, the aesthetic of the mass media is inevitably that of kitsch; and as mass media come to embrace and infiltrate more and more of our life, kitsch becomes our everyday aesthetic and moral code.” The Art of the Novel, Jerusalem Address: The Novel and Europe, Milan Kundera, 1986, Harper & Row
There is a vital intersection between the thinking of these two great but utterly different thinkers and it lies in what Kettering described as knowing without understanding and what Kundera calls “received ideas”. These “received ideas” that Kundera writes about, are simply the preconceptions by which we explain the world to ourselves. They do not constitute real understanding they are merely a superficial knowledge, a set of ideas which the great numbers of our fellows accept uncritically. They are the intellectual cocoon within which we shelter ourselves from dangers real and imagined, where we reassure ourselves of our goodness and anesthetize our anxieties. The extent to which we accept the complete verity of these received ideas is the exact measure of our indulgence in kitsch, that desire to enlist the sympathetic emotions of the “greatest number”.

The dominant kitsch of our age in the west are surely the fetishes of the left. They are the very means by which the left attempts to analyze and solve every problem by fitting them into “what they already know” rather than understanding them on their own terms. Hence, the persistent and obdurate refusal to believe in the threat posed by the bloody and brutal Caliphate Islamists. Because, for instance, they already “know” that multiculturalism is a universal and that according to its dictates “all people are brothers”, they cannot see that this sweet but dangerously mistaken belief is not shared by many other cultures. They also already know that all of humanity are brothers and that if you treat your enemy with dignity and resolve your problems by talking them out there is never any need to have a war. These seem like nice principals but they are deeply flawed and not universally shared, in fact, the Islamists view them as a fatal weakness to be exploited.
The pathetic retreat into these bland (and blind)assertions without testing in reality are what Kettering calls “…a system whereby one may go wrong with confidence”, Kundera calls “nonthought”. Here is Kundera:

“Nonthought. This cannot be translated by “absence of thought”…We cannot say that an absence is aggressive, or that it is spreading. “Nonthought,” on the other hand, describes a reality, a force; I can therefore say, “pervasive nonthought”, the “nonthought of received ideas”; “the mass media’s nonthought”; etc.”


I was watching Bill O’Reilly interview Whoopi Goldberg recently and she said something in the exchange that clarified the whole issue for me. O’Reilly was questioning her on the reluctance that she and other celebrity activists show to support their activist positions with discussions of logic, fact and substance. At one point Goldberg, talking about fellow celebrity Tim Robbins, said, “Well, I think he's very clear that he is not for the war in Iraq. It's not a new stance that he's had. He's also for years been a peace activist. So this can't come as a surprise to anybody.
No. 2, when I take a stance on something, all I can talk to you about it how I feel about it and why. And I don't have to justify it, and you don't have to listen to it. But it is important for everyone to know that they have an opinion and they have a — have a right to express it.”

I was astounded. In one short statement Ms. Goldberg was recorded trying nearly every trick in the left’s version of Kundera’s Kitsch list- she attempts to get away without answering his arguments with clear reasons by playing the “everyone is entitled to their opinion” card, and then claiming that that is “just how she feels” This is a perfect example of leftist nonthought in action.

In our ongoing quest to find ways to reason, alarm, intimidate and ridicule the left and liberal west into full awareness of the challenge and danger that our civilization faces, one of our most valuable resources must be the tradition of pragmatic problem solvers, like Kettering, that have made some of our greatest contributions to the comfort and progress of our species. Another inspiring influence is the experience of those who have lived in other cultures and come to ours with an appreciation that, if we listen to them, makes us realize once again how lucky we are to live in a culture that, though it is not perfect, is the best that humanity has managed thus far and is the only reasonable hope for continued improvement. In this essay I have attempted to pull those two streams together to show that the one thing they exemplify most of all and their clearest difference from the insolent and counter-productive left is an honest desire to understand rather than react emotionally.

Ms Goldberg speaks in half truths with half sentences. We must continue to advocate real understanding. When she says, “everyone is entitled to their opinion” she has omitted the most important part of that assumptive sentence- the other half is “no matter how ill considered and uninformed it may be.” The entitlement to opinion and expression is not a validation of content- in fact, it is a call for responsibility. Equal rights to speak them doesn’t mean all opinions are of equal value it means that they should to be considered and supported rather than merely indulged.

The first recorded declaration of that responsibility in U.S. history came in the fall of 1787 when a woman approached Benjamin Franklin immediately following the concluding session of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and asked “What form of government have you given us?” Franklin replied: "A republic, madam, if you can keep it."

We cannot allow ourselves to be lulled by the easy appeals to emotion and received ideas contained in Ms Goldberg’s typical liberal glibness. No matter how secure we feel we must realize that we have enemies. As the usually non political Kettering said, “The future can be anything we want it to be, providing we have the faith and that we realize that peace, no less than war, requires "blood and sweat and tears."”

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